One of the most iconic and widely known figures in Mexican folklore, La Llorona – and her terrible, eternal hunt for children’s souls to replace the ones she drowned in life – has fueled the nightmares of generations of kids and left her mark on a vast swath of Latin America. Her story has taken on a life of its own through centuries of tellings. And though it twists and turns along the way, in every form and any language, one thing remains constant: it still scares the living daylights out of anyone who hears it.
“When I first came to America, one of the first stories that people would come up and tell me was the legend of La Llorona,” says James Wan, producer of the upcoming “The Curse of La Llorona” from New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. Pictures.
“People see my movies and guess that I love ghost stories – and they’re right – but La Llorona is so much more,” continues Wan. “It hits you at the deepest levels of horror and touches on fears you didn’t even know you had. You understand why it’s such an integral part of people’s lives growing up. I just became fixated on this story. I thought, ‘What an amazing, scary figure to bring to the big screen.’”
The opportunity to bring La Llorona to the big screen went beyond Wan’s own obsession with the tale. “La Llorona is a cultural phenomenon and beloved by some of the biggest horror fans in the world. So when this project came along, all I wanted to do was help get it off the ground so people could see this story they love so much come to life on the big screen.”
With the addition of Gary Dauberman, the producing team was complete, and the search was on for a director. But when an innovative, intensely creepy short called “The Maiden” debuted online, that critical piece of the puzzle clicked into place. “We were all sort of bowled over by it,” Dauberman recalls. “It was directed with such a sure hand, and managed to scare you with just a camera and subtle practical effects. From the aesthetic, we guessed it was made by someone who loved the same movies we did – and we were right.”
Michael Chaves not only grew up loving movies, some of his favorites were directed by Wan, so to find himself in a room with one of his filmmaking heroes was akin to an out-of-body experience. “From start to finish, this journey has been the craziest ride of my life, and such an honor,” Chaves marvels.
“James is an amazing filmmaker and was incredibly supportive,” Chavez adds. “At every stage of the process, he would come up with these great, simple insights that were always targeted to finding the story you want to tell and what the audience wants to see in each moment.”
In Philippine cinemas May 1, “The Curse of La Llorona” is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a WarnerMedia Company. Use the hashtag #LaLlorona